Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Alton Ellis 1938 - 2008


When Isaac Hayes died earlier this year, everyone knew about it immediately, and rightly so. However, 10 October saw another reggae legend pass away with seemingly little comment. I can almost understand Joe Gibbs' death being widely ignored several months back, because he was more of a backroom man (even though hugely influential), but I'd have thought that someone as well-known in the world of Jamaican music as Alton Ellis would have generated a bit more column inches.

Maybe it's just me not being more aware, but it was a week or so after his death that I first read about his passing in the relative backwater of the Guardian's 'click to download' column. First sadness on hearing this, then mild outrage about not hearing before.

Still, looking around the internet now, there are plenty of tributes to this great pioneer of rocksteady, and as I type this, he's number 3 in The Hype Machine 'most blogged artists' list, so there are plenty of music fans out there who aren't letting his departure go unheralded. And rightly so - he was a giant of the genre. Although he's best known for rocksteady, he's recorded a variety of music including a bit of funk, and given that London was his home from the mid-70s, it's perhaps no surprise that he dabbled in lover's rock. There's little that i can say more to the many words that have been uttered so far, so I won't. However, if you're unfamiliar with the great man, you can read the brief bio on Wikipedia, get this compilation, or just listen at Hype.

One of these tracks below - Let Him Try - is my favourite Ellis song, and probably one of my all-time favourite songs. Ever. Call me a big softie, but just listen and tell me it doesn't make you feel all gooey and tingly inside. RIP Alton.

mp3: Alton Ellis - African Descendants
mp3: Alton Ellis - Let Him Try

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